Rumsfeld Discusses Transformation, Changes in Congress
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
MOSUL, Iraq, Dec. 10, 2006 Military transformation will continue, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told servicemembers here yesterday.
Transformation was one of the issues President Bush stressed when he was running for the office in 2000, Rumsfeld said during a town hall meeting with troops. “His hopes for the (Defense Department) was that it would be transformed to face the threats of the 21st century rather than being arranged to handle the challenges of the 20th century,” he said.
Change is tough, the secretary said, and it’s particularly hard for a large bureaucracy to change. “Each time you try to change something, someone isn’t going to like that,” he said. “You just have to accept that. The president said he wanted it changed. He wanted a 21st century orientation.”
Rumsfeld cited the changes to the global footprint, the establishment of U.S. Northern Command and building the new National Security Personnel System as examples of the changes that have been made. The secretary said the United States military has become leaner and more flexible, with added emphasis on special operations forces. All this will help to combat the terrorist threat, he said.
“I think these have to be considered the most important things we’ve done,” he said.
Rumsfeld said that the military doesn’t start “untransformed” and become transformed, “because the world is not static. It requires there is a process that continues working over time.”
He said DoD has selected leaders who are able to “break free” from earlier training and doctrine and put in place these new ideas. “These are people who are comfortable changing things, who can provide that kind of bold leadership that is a risk when you are changing things,” he said. “I am reasonably confident that the senior people in the department are not service-centric; they are joint in orientation and they are looking forward rather than back, and they will be in a position to influence the impetus to the continuing transforming process.”
The enemy in Iraq changes its tactics, techniques and procedures constantly, Rumsfeld said. The U.S. military needs to be nimble enough to get inside that decision cycle and cause the enemy to react to U.S. changes, rather than the other way around.
Rumsfeld spoke a bit about the changes in America that led to his resignation. A Marine in Al Asad Air Base asked him what Democratic control of Congress will mean to the military. “We’ve staked everything on the idea that the people can guide and direct the force of our country,” Rumsfeld said. Americans are part of the decision process even during wartime, he explained.
Rumsfeld said he is confident about the outcome. “The great sweep of human history is for freedom and that’s the side we are on,” he said in Mosul. “Totalitarian systems fail because they don’t exploit the creativity of a free population.”